NASA hot air balloon flights launch from New Mexico

FORT SUMNER, NM (KRQE) – NASA’s science balloon program has launched 18 flights with its spring campaign at Fort Sumner. The second flight took off on June 8. This is the program’s first major flight campaign since the pandemic, according to NASA. NASA says the team is supporting science and technology demonstration missions with six balloon flights scheduled from late April to mid-June.

The June 8 test flight was for the Columbia Balloon Scientific Facility and included four piggyback missions: The Balloon Observation of Microburst Scales, or BOOMS, BALLoon-Based Observations for sunlit Aurora, or BALBOA, Experimental Module for Iterative Design of Satellite Subsystem, or EMIDSS, and another technology demonstration flight, according to NASA. The flight lasted 15 hours and reached an altitude of 117,300 feet. The balloon landed northeast of Chino Valley, Arizona.

NASA says science balloons provide inexpensive, near-space access for suspended payloads weighing up to 8,000 pounds to perform scientific tests and investigations such as astrophysics, heliophysics and research atmospheric, and depending on the mission, flight times can last from hours to days or weeks for longer-term testing and data collection.

According to NASA, most missions will fly on heavy, pressureless science balloons, some as large as a football stadium when fully inflated. According to NASA, balloons have open conduits suspended from the sides to allow gas to escape and to prevent pressure inside the balloon from building up during gas expansion as the balloon rises in the air. above the Earth’s surface, according to NASA.

NASA also launched the Balloon-Borne Chirpsounder demonstration flight on a zero-pressure science balloon on May 4 from Fort Sumner and the balloon flew about four hours before returning to earth southwest of Albuquerque.

According to NASA, here are the other missions of the Spring Fort Sumner campaign:

  • Technical demonstration of the Columbia Balloon scientific installation: Demonstration flight to validate a lying ballast.
  • the Depth sounder on balloon: A demonstration flight testing new technology to measure the concentration of ions in the ionosphere.
  • All Sky Heliospheric Imager: An all-sky camera that will be installed on top of the balloon to provide a full view of the sky above the balloon at night to see the heliospheric structures. The mission eventually hopes to be launched aboard a larger spacecraft in the future.
  • Primal Inflation Polarization Explorer: Twin telescopes cooled to near absolute zero measuring the polarization of the cosmic diffuse background looking for primordial gravitational waves created during a period of inflation in the early universe. This will be the third flight of the mission.
  • Experimental module for the iterative design of the V. 2 satellite subsystem: Technological validation and scientific demonstrator for the development of instruments and communications to aid in surveys of climate change in Mexico and payload schemes for future satellite missions. This mission supports the Aerospace Development Center and the Institute of Applied Sciences and Technologies of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

To follow Fort Sumner’s spring campaign in real time, visit

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